2012-12-12, @BalticForge

Information disappearing

Probably all of us at least once met the “palm on the face” worthy situation having some first importance internet links or other web resources disappear before finishing using it. “Deleted”, “moved” or “not available anymore” - some of those disappointing messages generally force us think to ourselves – “I hope I saved it”.


Information disappearance rates – surprisingly high

Rates showing internet’s loss of its huge published information makes most of the users worry. According to the study made by fewVirginia’s (USA) researchers, even 30% of the information about one particular thing disappears in less then three years! What scientist did was taking some important dates from the Word’s history (Egyptian revolution, Michael Jackson’s death, the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, etc.) and tracking the information shared in “Twitter” links about each particular fact. After just one year 11% of the material completely disappeared, and only 20% of it was archived. Numbers significantly doubled in the course of the next year and who knows what the results would show if the research would have been continued today. We are only talking about one social networking site, not counting the daily information loss from billions of other web resources. As an example “Blogetery” case can be mentioned, having 70.000 blogs shut down by U.S. Law Enforcement in 2010. Was the information saved? –No. This topic wouldn’t probably required that much attention if it wasn’t our intellectual property, the very individual “know-how”, which is in real danger. Absolutely no one wants his long accumulated knowledge, containing of valuable specific articles, instructions (tutorials) or hard to find links to be lost, no matter if we are students or a successful businessmen. “Blogetery’s” disappointed user sides can be broaden with “Google Reader’s” members, who also experienced great difficulties because of the “Google’s” upgrades (2011) that included removal of the application’s sharing features. Millions of users were touched back then, no matter the warnings (one week before the upgrades), most of the users didn’t manage to prepare for big changes. Such situations are never guaranteed not to repeat again.

Thousand reasons for bits leak

Having tons of terabytes of information floating around us in the net definitely makes it extra difficult to store, save and control. People often delete various links, posts, messages or other things by mistake or just leave them to total abandonment what influences the elimination of material. When it comes to social networks, blogs, news/entertainment sites and similar, these are usually very limited archiving periods to blame for information’s losing. Some of the articles or posts are being archived for year or so, but others however – till it scrolls down to the very bottom of the site being finally pushed out from the view at all. Sometimes sources are being updated and renewed with additional information which unfortunately displaces the previous one. Blogs, online diaries “dies” too: according to the researchers this is what usually took part in the period of their study, having most of the blogs simply shut down or moved. However, broken, abandoned links caused by the moved/turned off servers or human impact is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s definitely not a good idea trusting real-time information services, social network sites and similar sources in full.

-Any solutions?

Most of the internet users face the difficulties storing intellectual material, even more - putting it only to one place, e.g. social networks or blogs (unless storing for short period of time). You will never be sure that your account won’t get suspended or the site itself won’t close, carrying down all the information together. So it’s actually still no fully trust worthy place for long term information storage, having all the possible risks remained. We may again refer to “clouds, offering thousands of online data storage sites, unfortunately many of them still offers very limited time storage, are nonflexible, bulky and full of irritating ads. Saving important information to your own computer or USB drive doesn’t even require discussion, right? That, however, isn’t as flexible and comfortable as 24/7 acceptable personal online databases that “Cloud computing” provide. Some of the social networking giants, including “Twitter” and “Facebook” already talk about the possibility of downloading all of user’s posts (“backup”-like), but nothing is told about the dates and most important - archiving of downloaded information, which is necessary when you go through thousands of various internet entries. “Google Docs”, “Dropbox” etc. can be very useful in dealing with such issues, though it’s still not a panacea understanding the nature of the internet and always impending to it threats.

While some people posts tons on “Twitter” or “Facebook” and others are doing researches about the probabilities of how soon they will lose everything there, we, ourselves, should start thinking about the attention worthy alternatives for our digitalized thoughts and other intellectual goodies storage… until the “green” is on. 

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